One of the best mono/paraphonic synths made
Note: After 5 years on the market, Sequential announced Friday, May 17, 2019 that the Pro 2 is discontinued. Could there be a Pro 3 in the works? Or a similarly priced poly with all the Pro 2’s functionality and even more voices? Sequential said at NAMM 2019 to keep your eyes open this summer. In this video interview, Dave Smith says in September 2019 there will be a new product release. Hopefully there is a worthy successor, it would be extremely disappointing if one of those options didn’t replace the Pro 2, which is unique and unmatched by competition. And a Rev2 isn’t gonna do it, no offense to Rev2s, it’s just a different critter… We’ll see… For now if you have a Pro 2, keep it. If you don’t, get one. They can only become more valuable as supply becomes constrained.
The Pro 2 build quality is top-notch
This machine is built. You feel it immediately. Metal and wood casing, there is heft to it. It feels solid. The 44 key semi-weighted keyboard is as good as they come. No doubt, the Pro 2 is an upper-scale mono/paraphonic synthesizer in most every way. As of today, you can get a Pro 2 for $1200 used and negotiate $1800 for a new one. It is worth every dollar, period.
Be sure to also read my post First look at the Dave Smith Instruments Pro 2
If there was a fire in my home and I had to grab 2 synths, one in each arm, this would be one of them. The more I use this and the more other synths I buy, the more I appreciate this machine. It IS a great synthesizer.
Digital vs. analog oscillators
I’m a hybrid digital/analog fan. I’m not opposed to pure analog, I have a couple of analog synths and enjoy them immensely, but a hybrid can be so much more, done properly. Pro 2 specifications say it has “Four DSP-based oscillators plus one sine wave sub oscillator”. I would suggest you watch the 1st of the Marc Doty video series farther down this page to understand properly how the Pro 2’s DSP-based oscillators equal in sound quality and outperform analog oscillators in many ways.
Start with this thought though, changing and adjusting almost nothing else but the oscillator wave shapes produces an amazing selection of sounds. You have the 4 classic wave shapes, saw, square, triangle, sine to start. Then you have 12 complex wave shapes: tines, mellow, church, muted, nasal, boing, gothic, ahhh, shrill, ohhhh, buzzzz, and meh. Next you have 13 super waves: supersaw, supertines, supermellow, superchurch, supermuted, supernasal, superboing, supergothic, superahhh, supershrill, superohhhh, superbuzzzz, and supermeh. Don’t forget noise: red, white, and violet. All are graphically represented real-time as well. Every oscillator can have a different wave shape. All these can be modified with shape mod, the 12 complex shapes can be morphed between 2 or 3 shapes with shape mod. You have FM (exponential and linear), AM, glide, slop, pitch, fine tune, wave reset, key follow, sync, and level. Again, all per oscillator. The sub oscillator stays on sine though, ha!
I think many a polyphonic synth owner would be better served by the Pro 2. If you are not a pianist or a keyboard wizard in need of 88 weighted keys and unlimited voices, the 4 note polyphony on the Pro 2 may be for you. Yes, I said polyphony. The Sequential specifications say “true 4-voice paraphonic mode with individually-gated envelopes per oscillator”.
Watch the 2nd and 3rd videos of the 15 video Marc Doty tutorial playlist farther down this page to understand properly how the Pro 2 is a 4 voice monophonic, paraphonic and polyphonic synth in reality. There are many good reasons the Pro 2 eats alive any other mono/paraphonic synth out there and the 4 voice polyphony is unusual and a major part of that.
I’ve seen some people say, the Pro 2 is just a single voice of the Prophet 12, which is not true. The Pro 2 does much more with its 4 oscillators than any 4 oscillators on Prophet 12 could dream of. If you had the 12×4 voices, in other words 48 oscillators Pro 2 style, whoa baby! If you are doing bass, leads, sequences, sound effects, AND 4 note chords, etc. this could be a much more satisfying synth for you than many polyphonics.
I am not negative on the Prophet 12, or other polys, but do your homework. It is not unheard of for people to exchange a P12 for a Pro 2 and be much more satisfied.
Controls and navigation are excellent
One thing I really like about the Pro 2 is not only do most functions have knobs or buttons, but there is an easy to read screen to see exactly what your parameters are set to. There is almost no menu diving. It’s all right there with 4 upper knobs and 4 lower buttons instantly assigned to the task at hand. The screen controls line up with the screen readout. You might flip through some tabs with the lower buttons and adjust the parameters with the upper knobs or use the original control elsewhere on the synth.
You can press the ‘show’ button and any other synth control to see what it is set for. This can make deconstructing presets and sounds very easy.
There are backlit pitch and mod wheels immediately to the left of the keyboard, right where I like them. Above the wheels, there are 2 position- and pressure-sensitive latchable touch sliders. That’s at least 5 physical non-knob or menu ways to adjust and modulate your sound mid-performance. Features like this are part of the reason I like hardware over software.
- Low-pass 24db/octave based on the Prophet 5 filter
- State-variable 12db/octave based on the Tom Oberheim SEM filter with low-pass, notch, high-pass, and variable between those 3 types. Additionally, there is a band pass mode.
You can run either filter solo or both in serial or parallel modes . You can also split the oscillators into 2 groups and have a different filter on each pair. All the filter functions are visually represented on the screen as well.
Filter 1, Filter 2, Amplifier, and 2 Auxiliary. All visually represented on the screen, which is a great help.
You can pretty much control everything with these 4 LFOs. A brief summary can’t do the LFOs justice, watch the LFO video below in the Marc Doty tutorials.
Super powerful, modular level modulation. 16 x 2 modulation matrix with over 50 mod sources and over 140 mod destinations. Again, a brief summary can’t do the Pro 2’s modulation justice, watch the pair of modulation videos below in the Marc Doty tutorials.
Sequencer and Arpeggiator
This is a very strong area of the Pro 2. Sequential’s start as a sequencer company shows. The images above show a 16 step x 3 track sequence. You can have up to 16 steps x 16 tracks or 32 steps x 8 tracks. The sequencer is paraphonic and records up to 4 notes per step in OS 1.3 or higher. I dare say it may very well be that the Waldorf Quantum has the Pro 2 outdone in the sequencer department these days, but also at more than twice the price.
Other notable features
4 CV in, 4 CV out, Gate out, 4 Delay engines, Distortion, Feedback, 5 Character FX (Girth, Air, Hack, Decimate, Drive) .
There you have it, any questions leave a comment.
Product support, downloads
Strongly recommended that you download the newest OS, unless you hate bug fixes, stability and new features.
Facebook user groups
DSI Pro 2 Users Group
Be sure to join the Uptown Oscillators Facebook Group!
This page is a living document, subject to update and expansion. Last edited – 6/9/2019
If you have any content you think should be added, or would like to help author gear pages/posts, please leave a comment here or on our Facebook group.